Huawei has been facing blow after blow in its business relations across companies from around the world, especially US companies after it was put on a trade blacklist by the Trump administration. The latest setback reportedly comes from UK-based chip designer ARM that has sent a memo to its employees to suspend any kind of business with Huawei.
Internal documents from the BBC say that ARM wants its employees to “halt all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei and its subsidiaries. The company memo states that its designs contain “US-origin technology”. ARM gave a statement to BBC that it was “complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government”. Huawei hasn’t spoken on this yet.
ARM is headquartered at Cambridge with offices spread across the world including six in the US. Although they don’t manufacture processors themselves, its designs or architecture are licensed by several other chipmakers including Apple, Qualcomm and Huawei for its mobile processors.
Losing business from ARM, which is now owned by Softbank, is a major blow to the Chinese tech giant since its homegrown Kirin SoCs, from its subsidy HiSilicon, are based on ARM processor architecture.
Huawei had been anticipating a ban and as a backup, they had been working on an alternative software for its mobile devices. Although the software is something they can build upon open sourced libraries and frameworks, creating a new architecture for its processors will be a huge challenge. Huawei is free to continue using the existing chips with the licenses for now. However, any future engagements will be suspended.
It still isn’t clear whether the suspension of business comes from ARM themselves or on instructions from the US commerce department. If the former is the case, then more international companies will be joining in and cutting ties with Huawei.